Have the demands of life taken over so much that you feel the connection isn’t as strong as you’d like with the person you love? Are you and your mate unsure how to recapture the closeness and intimacy you once had?
If so, try this couple’s communication exercise, taken from John Gottman’s book The Relationship Cure (Crown). He suggests that couples read and discuss these questions together. Your goal is not to reach agreement, but simply to express your feelings as individuals, and to listen to one another with open hearts. Doing so may assist you in building the emotional connection between the two of you.
- How do you feel about your role as husband, wife or intimate partner? What does this role mean to you in your life?
- How did your father and mother view this role? How are you similar or different?
- Are there ways you’d like to change your role in this relationship? What are they?
- How do you feel about the balance in your life between your role as an intimate partner—and your other roles, such as parent, worker, friend or adult child?
- What does your home mean to you? What qualities must your home have for it to be a safe, satisfying place for you to spend your time? Think about the home where you grew up. How do you want your home today to be similar or different?
- What does money mean to you? How much is enough for you? How much prominence should the acquisition of money and possessions have in your life? Think about the role money and possessions had in the home where you grew up. How do you want the role of money to be the same or different now?
- What does extended family mean to you? How close do you want to be to your extended family? To your intimate partner’s extended family? Think about the role of extended family in the home where you grew up. How do you want it to be different or similar in your life?
- What is the role of ethics, morality, spirituality and/or religion in your life?
- What does sex mean to you? What does sex mean in your relationship? What should it mean? What do you find most satisfying about sex with your mate? Are there ways to make it better?
- What goals do you have for your spouse/mate, your children and your family?
- What do you want to accomplish or experience in the next five to ten years?
- What is one life dream you want to fulfill before you die?
- How does your intimate relationship help or hinder accomplishing these life goals? How could it be better in this regard?
- What legacy do you want to leave? What changes would you have to make in your life today to make that vision come true?
- What activities serve as sources of energy, pleasure, intimacy or meaning in your life? Are you sharing these kinds of activities with your intimate partner? Do you make enough time for these important things, or do they often get postponed and crowded out? How can the two of you make more time for the things genuinely give you pleasure?